The Minnesota Department of Corrections is investigating an altercation at the Stillwater prison on Wednesday that resulted in two workers being hospitalized.
The altercation began in the prison’s food service area when an offender approached the staff members with a complaint, according to the Minnesota Department of Corrections. He then attacked four staff members without warning. Additional officers were immediately dispatched to the scene and the offender was taken into custody.
A correctional officer and a contract food service employee were sent to the hospital as a result of the incident, both were treated and released. Two other employees received minor injuries.
The DOC did not release additional details about the incident because the Special Investigations Unit is conducting a criminal investigation.
When the investigation is finished, the Washington County Attorney's Office will decide if criminal charges should be filed against the offender.
“This incident underscores how dangerous this work can be,” Corrections Commissioner Tom Roy said. “We have been working very hard to make sure that our staff has the training and the tools they need to respond when incidents like this occur.”
The number of offender-on-staff assaults has dropped dramatically over the past two years, Roy said. In 2011, there were 42 offender-on-staff assaults in Minnesota’s 10 correctional facilities, in 2011 there were 16 and in 2012 there were 17.
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The DOC has also recently started a new training program for employees who work with offenders on a daily basis, called Crisis Intervention Training, Roy said. The program addresses the challenges of working with offenders who have mental health issues and helps staff recognize and then defuse potentially violent situations before use of force is needed.
“This training won’t stop every assault, but it can help us reduce the need to use force,” Roy said. “We are committed to making the workplace as safe as we can for our staff.”